Marilyn Briscoe, a pioneer quarterback who had to overcome prejudice against black athletes who played in that position in the 1960s and who later won two Super Bowl rings as a wide receiver along with the Miami Dolphins, died Monday. He was 76 years old.
Briscoe was hospitalized in Norwalk, California, outside of Los Angeles, where he died of pneumonia. His daughter Angela Marriott said she had circulatory problems in her legs.
Briscoe wrote the history of professional football in 1968, when, along with Denver Bronco during his rookie year, he became the first black player to start a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Although Briscoe played as a quarterback in college, many coaches at the time believed that black players could not cope with the difficulty of this position.
He went on to set the team’s rookie record for the Broncos with 14 shots, which were then played in the American Football League. He played in 11 games that season, in the starting five, and also ran 308 yards and three assists.
Briscoe was known as a magician, and his variety was a precursor to pedestals. But, despite his achievements, the bias of that time did not prevent him from playing for a long time. The Broncos did not allow him to compete for the position the following year, so he demanded his dismissal and joined the Buffalo Bills, where he moved to a wider reception.
“All I wanted was a chance to show my skills,” Brisko told The New York Times in 2014. “It was a mirror of the ’60s, especially in African-American society. We said, “No, this is what we want,” so it was easier for me. If it had been in the 50s, I would not have done it in the world. But I grew up at the right time to express myself. “
Briscoe played three seasons at Buffalo and had his best year in 1970, when he caught 57 assists at 1036 yards and eight touches and was selected for the Pro Bowl.
In 1972, he joined the Miami Dolphins, who lost to Super Bowl VI last season. The Dolphins were the first team and already had two established receivers in Paul Warfield and Howard Twilight, so Briscoe’s stats were reduced.
But the Dolphins ended their only perfect season in the NFL when they won Super Bowl VII and repeated as champions in the 1973 season. He later played for the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
Marilyn Oliver Briscoe Jr. was born on September 10, 1945 in Auckland, California. His father, Marilyn Sr., and mother, Geneva Briscoe, moved to Omaha when Marilyn Jr. was younger. He grew up in a multi-ethnic housing project that sat in the shadow of a meat-packing factory and also produced stars such as Bob Gibson and Gail Sayers.
He played football at Omaha Municipal University (now Omaha University in Nebraska) and although he was relatively small at 5-feet -10 and 5 175, he was an excellent passerby and runner and a natural leader. As a quarterback, he set 22 school records, including 5,114 passing yards and 53 touches.
He was drafted by the Broncos in 1968 and on October 6 of that year, in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he became the first black starting quarter in AFL history.
He is survived by Marriott and another daughter, Rebecca Briscoe.